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Should Fitness Clubs Meet Spiritual Needs?

By Brad Bloom
Publisher, Faith & Fitness Magazine

CBN.comThe tragic loss of life at an LA Fitness in Collier, Pennsylvania on August 4, 2009, calls for new conversations and approaches to the role fitness facilities should have in the lives of their members. The gunman who was a member of the club killed four and reportedly wounded 15 others.

The fitness industry can no longer afford to debate IF their business should be meeting the spiritual needs of members. They need to decide how they will do it then do it right away.

According to fitness, “ABC's ‘Good Morning America’ is reporting that the gunman was George Sodini, 48, of Scott Township, Pennsylvania. Sodini had a blog on which he detailed his hate for his mother and brother.” The fitness report adds, “Sodini allegedly walked into an group fitness room where a Latin impact dance class was taking place with approximately 30 women inside.

According to Stacey Falk, a woman in the class who was interviewed on the ‘Today’ show, Sodini walked to the back of the classroom toward some weight stacks with a duffle bag. About a minute later, the lights went out and then she heard gunfire. The women scattered in the room, some running out and others gathered in corners, Falk says. She finally ran out a door after seeing several women shot, including the instructor who had told the women at the beginning of the class that she was pregnant. The instructor reportedly was not one of the dead.

For over a decade I’ve talked with hundreds of fitness club members and one thing is clear, everyone has motives for being there beyond just getting exercise. Those motives are often deeply rooted in personal needs that are being unmet. In many cases most members won’t readily admit to such needs. They may not even fully recognize why they have a gym membership because our society does a good job of masking spiritual and emotional needs with a more marketable yet shallow call to simply ‘get fit’.

All fitness facility executives and directors need to evaluate their mission in perspective to their members’ needs and the opportunities to be more effective. Avoiding future tragedies will be the end result of offering services and developing programs that meet the whole spectrum of member needs. Until health clubs recognize that members expect more than fitness and then deliver more comprehensive life solutions, gyms will fall short of what they should be doing. Clubs that deliver are already setting the example of what whole life fitness can truly be.

Brad Bloom

From Faith & Fitness Magazine. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © 2009 Faith & Fitness Magazine and Lifestyle Media Group. Faith & Fitness Magazine is a lifestyle resource to build physical and spiritual strength. It helps readers make connections between the Christian faith and the fitness lifestyle. To contact the publisher of Faith & Fitness Magazine, Brad Bloom, for reprint permission, e-mail


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